Vaccines and Foreign aid

There is a great article in today’s UK Telegraph by Hugh Pennington , the emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. It has been written in response to the news that Bill Gates and also the UK government have comitted huge sums to money, when  yesterday they pledged £814 million on top of the UK’s existing commitment to GAVI (the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation) of £680 million between 2011 and 2015.

Here are a couple of choice quotes that I’ve plucked out because I really like them …

Bill Gates is right to call vaccines “magic” and to say “they’re very inexpensive – they can protect you for your entire life, so diseases like smallpox that used to kill millions are completely gone because of the vaccine. It is the greatest thing that ever happened in human health.”

The ethical case for giving all citizens of the world the same chance to grow to adulthood is unassailable. So is the case for the prevention of suffering – children killed by diarrhoea or pneumonia die painfully. It is the same for whooping cough and tetanus, which are also preventable by vaccines.

The taxpayers’ additional £814 million is going to a first-class humanitarian cause. That 1.7 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year makes the case. But it is not just overseas aid; that money will also lead to the development of better vaccines which we can use, too.

You can (and should) read the full article here, it is important.

Finally, in the context of this being an initiative that will prevent 1.7 million horribly painful deaths of young children, let me address a few words to the thriving anti-vaccine movement led by the likes of Andrew Wakefield, (struck off for multiple ethics failures and fraud), and Jenny McCarthy (famous for being crassly stupid regarding this issue) …

“If you still do truly oppose the deployment of vaccines, then you need to seriously reconsider the ethics of that position, because what you are pushing for would lead to the death of millions.”

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